The six 4G fundamentals forming effective 5G foundations
The enhanced capabilities and functionality that 5G offers are the cause of much excitement across the global telecommunications industry.
The potential of the technology goes way beyond faster speeds and greater capacity, it also offers the potential for operators to reduce their reliance on selling commoditised mobile data and generate premium services that leverage the full technical capabilities of the network, says Sara Philpott, data product lead at Openet.
As with the introduction of all new generations of mobile technology however, 5G is not an island. It lacks the technical maturity to stand alone at the present time. Most global operators must still cater for, and support, 3G and 4G services while contemplating 5G consumer and enterprise use cases. The fundamental qualities of effective 4G service data management will form the foundations of 5G.
This is especially true in the following six areas:
Control and service integrity
Managing the continuous flux of network change, while ensuring service integrity, will be a major challenge for operators. The transitioning network architectural changes (4G to 5G) will present problems related to service continuity, mapping processes and stitching services together. These challenges are not insurmountable, but the fluidity of the network and speed of 5G service introduction will necessitate a higher level of intelligence and faster response. The ability to audit data, as events happen, will be necessary to maintain service level agreements (SLAs), reconcile processes and identify anomalies.
Using data to deliver insight
Operators are no longer as preoccupied with handling the vast quantities of data that mobile networks generate as they are with understanding and filtering out key data in the continuous processing flows. It is this information that will deliver the biggest bottom-line impact and set them apart. Speed to observe and respond has never been more important. The filtering of key datasets, as events happen, to support specific analysis or action and stream processing, will play a critical part in data refinement for insight.
Measuring and validating quality of experience (QoE) is possibly the single most important imperative for 5G service monetisation. Delay-critical services are highly dependent on the 5G network quality of service (QoS) and the management of network slices. QoE is becoming the biggest differentiator for consumers and therefore the number one priority for many operators transitioning to 5G.
The justification for 5G premium service pricing will rest on the ability of operators to validate differing QoE per service and application. Data management will play an important role in making sure the service experience received aligns with subscription premiums, as planned and unpredictable events happen in the network.
Before investing in new network components, operators must also maximise the return on investment (ROI) tied to already deployed infrastructure, while maximising business service continuity. As operators begin the transition to a modern technology architecture, they will also look to prolong investment in some legacy systems that support highly tuned business processes to minimise disruption to existing services. Streaming protocol conversions enable processing of new interfaces while maintaining legacy business and operational processes.
Total cost of ownership (TCO)
TCO is currently a major consideration for operators. Operators must be able to scale operations to cope with an explosion in anticipated service volumes while also being ready to scale down to meet the needs of federated enterprise deployments. Lean and compact architectures, delivering key functionality without a massive footprint or unnecessary application overhead will deliver on TCO targets. This will become more and more essential for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) models and services to customers and businesses.
The growth for Private Enterprise Networks (PEN) is expected to be a key commercial driver for operators once the 5G floodgates are opened. Many existing data processing platforms are clunky and require multiple applications to deliver on end-to-end mediation and enrichment flow. A lightweight solution with the ability to service multiple business applications, as well as edge processing is a much better and more cost-efficient option.
Fragmented data from multiple sources is extremely difficult to organise. When multiple pieces of data are joined, true innovation emerges. Key pieces of information can be selected and correlated with other datasets to uncover ‘hidden’ insight. Operators need a centralised, distributed real time processing platform, acting as a processing service for the business. They also need refining data to enable AI tooling and ML models to perform their magic. The ability to ingest, aggregate, correlate and enrich data from multiple sources in real time provides the perfect bedrock for innovation.
5G offers tremendous opportunities for operators. However, when it comes to data management, building on effective learnings from running fine-tuned 4G networks is essential. Having the right foundations, systems and processes in place is key. With percipient and mindful planning, risk-mitigation and carefully placed steps, they can proceed on path to 5G innovation with confidence.
The author is Sara Philpott, data product lead, Openet